BEYOND THE GLOBAL SUMMITS: REFLECTING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Sustainable development advocates that in meeting the economic needs of the present we must not compromise the ability of the planet to provide for the needs of future generations. Sustainable development promotes a new economic paradigm integrating traditional economics with ecological economics and also requires developed States to reduce their environmental impact leaving space for developing States to meet their own needs. Beyond that, however, a more precise meaning of sustainable development is subject to competing interpretations thus making its content far from clear. The concept has been broadly utilized in areas including biodiversity, threatened species, fisheries, climate change, international trade, and transport policy. Even though many of sustainable development’s environmental principles have been incorporated into treaties and domestic environmental and planning legislation the concept lacks precise legal parameters and obligation to consider its principles can often be ‘soft’. Despite the optimism surrounding the concept’s adoption at the global summits a subsequent loss of political momentum has meant that sustainable development and its core environmental principles have not attained the status of customary international law. Thus far international law has not adequately responded to the challenge of creating legally binding rules and from the outset the difficulty of gauging any kind of customary incorporation has been clear. To transcend into binding rules of international law further political and legal commitment is necessary. The legal challenge for sustainable development in transforming the concept and its constituent principles from rhetoric and policy into legally binding international rules is enormous. A legal framework is needed in which environmental and social considerations are integrated into developmental processes so that decision-making reflects the environmental value and services that nature provides. Such a framework would be contained in treaty and built on the concept’s environmental principles requiring the consideration of environmental effects, in particular: the integration principle, the prevention principle, the precautionary principle, and environmental impact assessment. Despite the fact that little has emerged in terms of binding rules of international law sustainable development remains the only viable option to secure a hopeful path for future generations of humans and in time will hold a central position in international and domestic environmental law and policy.
Stathis N. Palassis. 2009. "BEYOND THE GLOBAL SUMMITS: REFLECTING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT" ExpressO
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stathis_palassis/1